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Merseyside's most famous city—owing to its association with the Beatles—is worth a visit. (Photograph by Yadid Levy / Alamy Stock Photo)

Europe’s Rising Star: Liverpool

With more than a little dose of nocturnal naughtiness and a waterfront to rival any in Europe, Liverpool has emerged as one of England’s most convivial and cosmopolitan cities.

The Tate Liverpool, in the Albert Dock, allows visitors to ponder art—Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst—without having to do battle with the crowds at the two Tates in London. The Merseyside Maritime Museum argues that boats, far more than the Beatles or football, elevated Liverpool to global renown.

The city of about half a million is walkable. The area between the docks and the city center, known as the Baltic Triangle, used to be where all the dock depots clustered—a few shipping agents remain—but has evolved into a creative hot spot, with industrial buildings housing design studios, Internet start-ups, bistros, and the inevitable bike shop.

Have lunch on Hope Street, one of the city’s preeminent dining strips. The London Carriage Works serves up locally sourced dishes, such as Liverpool Bay sea bass. Then down a postprandial pint of Strongheart ale at the Phil (aka Philharmonic Dining Rooms), one of the most beautiful pubs in Britain. The two snugs are ideal for cozy chats.

For something more rock-and-roll, check into the centrally located Hard Days Night hotel, with a lively cocktail bar and pop art in the rooms, or check out funky Parr Street Studios, in the Ropewalks district. Its Studio2 bar is as glamorous as any in town after dark, and the studios are still fully functioning.

  • Best For: Pop culture and pubs with history—Baltic Fleet, Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Ye Cracke, Ye Hole in Ye Wall
  • Must-See Art: A working Merseyside ferry painted in “dazzle” camouflage by the godfather of British pop art, Peter Blake, at the Tate
  • Also Try: Hull, another great northern English city—too often passed over, but fun and friendly

This piece was adapted from a story that originally appeared in the UK edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine.